Juddmonte Farms' recent purchase Paulassilverlining had never run at Churchill Downs, but that didn't stop the tough-as-nails mare from collecting her second consecutive grade 1 May 6 with a game victory in the $300,000 Humana Distaff (G1) at the Louisville track.
The 5-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper splashed over a sloppy surface to complete a highly successful Kentucky raiding trip for New York-based trainer Chad Brown, holding off champion female sprinter Finest City by a neck and adding the seven-furlong sprint to her résumé after taking the April 8 Madison Stakes (G1) at Keeneland at the same distance just four weeks prior.
Jockey Jose Ortiz kept Paulassilverlining along the five path early, tracking the pace set by Super Humor as that 27-1 longshot ran the first quarter in :23.02. The eventual winner wasted no time making her move, and took over to run a half in :46.55. She opened a 1 1/2-length advantage heading into the stretch, and prevailed in the final stages after a long drive.
"She had no trouble with the track and Jose gave her a great ride," Brown said. "He got her off the rail early, put her in a stalking position, and got the jump on everybody."
"She was extra game today, but she's like that every time," Ortiz said. "She always shows up and gives her best."
Finest City, shipping out of California for the first time for trainer Ian Kruljac, made a bid in the stretch with an extended run from between horses under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, but just missed. Smith felt the City Zip runner had a little trouble handling the surface.
"She kind of slipped more than I'd hoped she would," he said. "That might have made a little bit of difference today."
Three Chimneys' grade 1 winner Carina Mia, running for the first time since a ninth in the Breeders' Cup FIlly & Mare Sprint (G1) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita Park, was three-quarters of a length back in third.
Off at odds of 5-2, Paulassilverlining returned $7.60, $3.40, and $2.60 after completing the distance in 1:23.68 on a sloppy, sealed track. Favored Finest City brought $3 and $2.40, and Carina Mia paid $2.60. The top three were followed home by Sweetgrass, Lightstream, Mines and Magic, and Super Humor.
Paulassilverlining is two-for-two in grade 1 company since Juddmonte bought her from breeder Vince Scuderi about six weeks before the Madison. She was obtained to join a dirt-focused broodmare band being assembled for Juddmonte's Arrogate , the world's top-ranked racehorse, upon his eventual retirement.
"We bought her for Arrogate. She should be just a lovely, lovely match for him," said Juddmonte manager Garrett O'Rourke. "We hoped she'd win a grade 1 and she's won two. Now having won two grade 1 races, something that wouldn't have been in our original dreams, you start thinking of the championship. That's super exciting."
Paulassilverlining, a half sister to grade 1 winner Dads Caps, was bred in Kentucky out of the Grindstone mare Seeking the Silver. The victory increased her earnings to $1,371,230 with a 10-4-3 record from 20 starts.
"As everyone has seen, she's as tough as nails the way she finishes her races," O'Rourke said. "You can just look at her race record and see how consistent she's been. Then you go and look at her physically and she's superb, fantastic physical shape. She loves what she's doing. That's the key."